Tag Archives: Elizabeth Banks

“People Like Us”: Yes, We Do!

I always like Michelle Pfeiffer!

Grammarian that I am, I wondered if “like” was being used as a verb in the title of the movie we saw yesterday, “People Like Us.” Alas, it wasn’t. But, as it turned out, it was (at least for the Mister and I).

Hannah (Olivia Wilde) and Sam (Chris Pine)

This drama is about how a constantly lying yet ambitious young man (Sam played by Chris Pine) comes to terms with his estranged father and his previously-unknown half-sister. When his dad dies, Sam is left $150,000 to give to Josh Davis . . . who turns out to be Sam’s nephew, son of that half-sister Frankie (Elizabeth Banks).

Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) needs help.

Sam would rather keep the money, being heavily in debt, but his curiosity gets the better of him. Which is a good thing, because everyone involved in this convoluted family needs each other.

The best thing that this flick has going for it (well, besides the fact that Pine is incredibly handsome) . . . wait a minute, what was I saying?

Oh, yeah . . . sorry (made me remember Chris Pine)! The best thing is the acting. All of the main roles—Michelle Pfeiffer as Sam’s mom, Banks, Pine, and Olivia Wilde as Sam’s girlfriend—are so well-played. Even young Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario who badly needs a haircut) was believable. The ending truly makes the movie.

I don’t consider “People Like Us” a must-see; it’s definitely Netflixable. But don’t be surprised if you do like it if you choose to watch it.

Movie Triple-Header

There are lots of British stars in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

The Mister and I put the old AMC Stubs card through its paces last weekend, as we enjoyed three movies together. Our sons joined us for one of the films . . . let’s see if you can figure out which one (it won’t be hard).

First up was “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” featuring a bunch of wonderful British and Indian actors. Even though there is a love story between two attractive youngsters, Dev Patel (the hotel’s part-owner and manager) and Tena Desae, the flick definitely is skewed towards the older generation. The main cast of Brits are all in their 60s and 70s. There probably wasn’t anyone younger than age 45 in the theater (especially at an early matinee)!

All of these aging Brits are facing retirement, some with little money. All are drawn to (Jaipur) India’s Marigold Hotel, which is misrepresented as almost palatial in its brochure when it’s as rundown as they all are.

Maggie Smith sheds her Professor McGonagall persona.

I especially loved Judi Dench (as always) and Maggie Smith in this movie, which was delightful. You’ll exit the theater smiling.

“Men in Black 3”

1969 and present Agent Ks sandwich Agent J.

Yep, this is the one our sons were anxious to see . . . us, too. We’ve enjoyed the MIB series so far, and we weren’t disappointed by this most-recent effort.

Agent J (Will Smith) travels back in time to 1969 to try to stop Boris the Animal (Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement) from killing his partner, Agent K (a very aged and tired Tommy Lee Jones). J deals with the younger K, amazingly played by Josh Brolin, who nails the future K’s mannerisms.

My only gripe (and it’s a big one) with “MIB 3” is that a subplot involves the hated, hated New York Mets, who overcame my beloved Chicago Cubs’ huge lead, not only winning their division but also the World Series in 1969. No Cub fan needs to be reminded of those dark days.

Otherwise, this is a must-see for MIB fans.

“What to Expect When You’re Expecting”

A bevvy of pretty actresses are expecting babies.

All women who are or have been pregnant know one basic truth: “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is THE must-read maternity bible. Still, it’s hard to believe that a movie was made based on Heidi Murkoff’s manual.

The just-okay flick follows five couples as they navigate the murky waters of having or adopting a baby. The best character was breastfeeding advocate Wendy, superbly played by Elizabeth Banks, who discovers that it’s tough to feel that elusive pregnancy “glow” when you’re so big that you’re zoned as a condo, and nothing feels normal. I could so relate to her experience . . . times two!

The dudes group, led by Chris Rock, was a nice touch, as the dads bonded with each other and their kids. But overall “What to Expect” is one for the Netflix queue.

“The Hunger Games”: Mostly Satisfying

The long-awaited movie finally opens!

Because I’ve apparently been living under a rock (or perhaps cleverly camouflaged by Peeta Mellark to blend in with the scenery), I hadn’t heard of “The Hunger Games” trilogy until I saw the movie trailer based on the first book. And I love young adult fiction! Haven’t I put in my time with Harry Potter and the “Twilight” gang?

That trailer looked intriguing, so I downloaded “The Hunger Games” to my Kindle (free to Amazon’s Prime members) and read it after first lending it to my older son (I knew he would like it). I finished Suzanne Collins’ well-written take on a dystopian (if I had to look it up, you do, too) society (Panem) that rises from the ashes of the United States after drought, fire, and war. Then I quickly polished off “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay” (spoiler alert: all three were good, but I liked the first the best).

Katniss Everdeen could be an Olympic archer.

Now I was ready to see the movie! I actually drove to San Antonio last Saturday to watch it with my #1 son (the Mister and our younger boy were off playing disc golf). The verdict? We both enjoyed “The Hunger Games,” but we also were disappointed.

Of course, it’s a tough task to bring a much-loved book to the big screen. Especially one that is so richly penned, weaving such a compelling tale about how  24 tributes (one male and one female ages 12-18 were chosen from each of Panem’s 12 districts) travel to the freak-show Capitol to compete in the annual Hunger Games. A movie just can’t tell the story better than the novel. Period!

Katniss is caught in the middle between Peeta (left) and Gale.

Here were the positives: The casting was great! Jennifer Lawrence is wonderful as Katniss Everdeen, a teenager who illegally hunts to keep her family alive and volunteers to be her district’s female tribute at the brutal Hunger Games in place of her little sister. What a great heroine!

I thought Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, the district’s male counterpart in the fight-to-the-death games, and Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Katniss’ hunting partner, worked well. For those who haven’t read the books, the love triangle that’s hinted at in the movie is explored further in the sequels.

What movie isn’t Stanley Tucci good in?

Casting Stanley Tucci as the flamboyant Caesar Flickerman was simply brilliant! He’s a scene-stealer. Woody Harrelson as Haymitch surprised me; it was a perfect part for him (or Josh Holloway, who played Sawyer on “Lost”). Elizabeth Banks lent just the right amount of kookiness to Effie Trinket.

Because the trilogy is told in the first person by Katniss, changes had to be made in the movie for its third-person point of view. I especially liked the use of the command center, which gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how the Hunger Games were controlled. Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), the head gamemaker, had a much-bigger role in the film, which gave us an interesting angle. Plus I thought the music was great.

The mockingjay pin

On the negative side, I disliked how the writers handled how Katniss got the important mockingjay pin, which was her good-luck charm. They couldn’t give Madge 30 seconds of on-screen time? She was one of Katniss’ only friends!

Also, the book emphasized the importance of food—the abundance for the “haves” in the Capitol (which astounds Katniss) vs. the starvation mode in the “have-not” districts. Yet the movie merely glosses over this. In fact, you really couldn’t tell that people in District 12 were perpetually hungry.

Even though the Hunger Games part of the movie had me on the edge of my seat at times, it felt rushed. I know they didn’t want the deaths to be too violent for the PG-13 rating, but the fact that kids were killing kids is what made the “sport” so horrific. The muttations weren’t as good as I expected, either.

All in all, though, I recommend seeing the movie. Just hope that the odds will ever be in your favor!

Movie Reviews: Double Feature

Katherine Heigl plays a credible Stephanie Plum.

Way back when our two now high school juniors played youth football together, my pal Robin and I would sit on the sidelines discussing a matter of utmost importance: Who would we cast if Janet Evanovich’s wildly popular Stephanie Plum novels were made into movies? Our most-pressing casting decision? Who would play Plum’s love interests, Joe Morelli and Ranger. We knew that would be key to our enjoyment of the flicks.

Plum mixes it up with Joe Morelli.

Friday night Robin, our mutual friend Nicole (aka the Hawk girl), and I finally got to see how Hollywood answered that six-year-old question when we saw “One for the Money.” It’s a fun, fluffy movie pretty much just for Evanovich fans (it’s based on her first book). For everyone else, it’s strictly rental material.

Is Daniel Sunjuta hot enough to play Ranger?

The biggest negative for me? The casting. Jason O’Mara is okay as Morelli, a cop who’s trying to prove his innocence while Plum, a novice bounty hunter, tries to bag him for needed rent money. But Daniel Sunjuta as Ranger, the slim, mysterious Latin hunk who helps get Stephanie out of jams? No way! What a bummer!

Sherri Shepherd is wonderful as Lula, while Debbie Reynolds (Grandma Mazur) and Katherine Heigl (I pretty much like her in everything she does, so I think she’s okay as Stephanie) are fine. But I wish the casting agent had given more thought to the all-important male leads. Especially if more of Evanovich’s books are made into movies.

I’m sure I’ll go see them . . . and I’ll still be complaining!

“Man on a Ledge”

Here’s the man on the ledge!

Cops proclaiming their innocence was the theme of my weekend movie experience. The Mister and I watched “Man on a Ledge” yesterday and really enjoyed it. No, it wasn’t seamless plotwise, but it was suspenseful, keeping us on the edge of our seats until the end.

Lydia Mercer tries to get Nick off the ledge.

Ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) escapes from prison; he was incarcerated for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. He climbs out on a ledge at a high-rise hotel, threatening to jump. Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), a police negotiator, tries to talk him out of it. Of course, all is not what it seems.

What I liked least about the flick were the scenes of Nick looking at the crowd gathered below him—oh, how I hate heights! This isn’t great moviemaking, but it is enjoyable and interesting . . . especially at morning matinee prices.